Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 07 – Which Japanese words do you use in English? (hanami, shinkansen, etc.)

I already briefly went over this prompt in the "mannerisms and expressions" post, but I think I'll go into more detail this time around~

As I said in the aforementioned post, I use a lot of Japanese words in my daily conversations with other foreigners. The degree to which I try and sensor myself varies, of course, from person to person. People who have a good grasp of the Japanese language (which most of my friends around me do), I usually don't sensor myself at all with. After studying Japanese for five years, living in this country for two, and texting/interacting with my Japanese friends on a daily basis, it gets difficult sometimes to come up with the English word first (yes, this does prove to be a problem teaching English sometimes) and instead, the Japanese word comes flying out. Even when I'm having "I-just-can't-speak-Japanese" days, common words and phrases will still come flying out of my mouth. With people who know a little Japanese (most other English teachers in my area that I see frequently), I try to hold those words back (though sometimes to no avail). At the same time, these friends seem to understand when I slip up and have to backtrack with the English word. They also usually know enough Japanese to not always need an explanation.

I can't think of the English word!!!!!!
The hardest is when talking to friends and family back in the US on skype. I want to use Japanese so badly, and I have to repeat over and over in my mind, "NO, YOU CAN NOT USE KOUSOKU WHEN TALKING ABOUT THE HIGHWAY" so that I don't use a completely incomprehensible word while talking to my mother or best friend. I find that the pauses I take to search my brain for a word have gotten longer, and I use simpler words more often than the concise, intelligent-sounding words that I went to University in order to learn and use.

Now, without further ado, here is a good sampling of the words I use on a daily basis:

Undoukais never fail to make a non-Japanese person feel like they are at a child-run circus
uchiawase: business meeting (used when meeting with teachers about lesson plans)
enkai: drinking party (this includes shinenkai-new year drinking party and bounenkai-end of the year drinking party too)
nijikai: 2nd party. The party you go to with your co-workers/friends after the initial party was held, and all the sober-debby-downers have shuffled home. this means it's time for karaoke or a bar!
undoukai: sports day
bunkasai: culture festival
hanami: flower viewing
shinkansen: whoever uses "high-speed train" or whatever else is going out of their way to not use Japanese
nihonshu: sake or any other type of Japanese alcohol
gokon/konpa: is there even a word for this in English? It's a set-up group date
purikura: because "print-club" sounds stupid
chu-hai: because "canned cocktail" is also really stupid sounding

Purikura! We look so glowy in this picture <3
kousoku: highway (here in Kochi, I need to take the highway if I want to get out of the prefecture quickly).
horenso: spinach. for whatever reason I can never get the word "spinach" out. ever.
negi/mame/piman/satsumaimo/hakusai: leak/bean/green pepper/sweet potato/Chinese cabbage. a lot of my problem words end up being food words :P
nonbiri: leisurely. one of my friends used this a lot and I ended up picking it up.
gorogoro suru: to lay around the house. I just feel like this describes that action so well.
bimyou: strange/off/questionable. one of my ex's used to say it when I would make faces at him. it stuck.
betsu betsu: usually said when splitting a check. Even with my English-speaking friends, we usually say, "Do you wanna best-betsu this?"
uchiage: afterparty! I get invited to a lot of these after shows. Way more fun than any enkai will ever be.
dorama: Japanese dramas are such a unique thing, in my opinion.... drama isn't just a genre for dramatic acting. it has become something completely different and absurd in the Japanese hands.

::Ways in which Japanese has messed with my English::
live: a concert/live show. It's not terribly off from English, but saying "I'm going to a live tomorrow" is considerably off for standard English....
4th month/5th month/etc: This is seriously just my own weird problem. I've always had issues with coming up with the names of months. Japanese has it laid out so logically with the number... so I just English-ify the Japanese and come up with, "Hey, aren't we going to that meeting in 7th month?"
guitar: ever since a Japanese friend told me he was taught that the pronunciation of guitar was "gu-wii-tar" I can't help but think about it constantly and sometimes accidentally say it. Just like thinking of island like "is-land" when you spell it out...

The aftermath of an uchiage.... same as most enkais but co-workers are at least kind enough to pass out at home/the nijikai
I'm not counting formal names, places, dishes (okonomiyaki, takoyaki), or objects that are specifically Japanese. English is the most plastic and adaptable language in the world, so it'd be unfair to say that "kendama" or "udon" isn't as much English as other words we've adopted (or to say that ramen and bi-ru isn't somehow Japanese at this point).

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